Saturday, July 9, 2011

Visit to the site

Structure 16 cleaning
Angela and I showed Jennifer Burley around Calixtlahuaca today. Jennifer is a student of art history at the University of Arizona, studying Aztec sculpture with Emily Umberger, our project art historian. In case we got lost there is a nice new blue pyramid sign pointing up the hill. One new development is that many of
Catalino surveying
the temples and public buildings are being cleared off and cleaned up. The biggest change is in structure 16, the big rectangular platform on the plain, east of the royal palace at the edge of the modern town. José García Payón did some superficial clearing of the structure, but did not really excavate much of it.  The photo shows the south side of the structure, where two walls are visible. It wasn't clear to us whether these are two different construction stages, or else a two-step profile of the building. I'm sure that the archaeologist in charge, Arqueóloga María del Carmen Carbajal, will sort this out.

Angela & Jennifer on Str. 16
The work crew is headed by Calixtlahuaca resident Catalino Estrada Monte de Oca. Catalino was one of our best workers during the excavations in 2007. He spent much of the time helping out mapper, Max Farrer (see photo). If you visit Calixtlahuaca, be sure to stop in at Catalino's store, on the road up to the site, and say hi.

The work crew has cleared off part of a small platform on top of structure 16 (photo at right). The purpose of structure 16 remains a mystery. Was this a ballcourt? The form does not seem to fit. Perhaps a calmecac (school)? García Payón had labeled the royal palace as a calmecac, but that is an error; perhaps the school was here instead. We did notice a slab support from an Aztec III black-on-orange bowl in the fill of structure 16, suggesting that it was built (or enlarged) in either the Ninupi or Yata phases (Late Postclassic).

The site museum
The Calixtlahuaca bird
Another nice development at the site is that the small site museum has re-opened. It was closed in 2007 for repairs. The plan was to re-do the exhibits with new objects, new text, and a better exhibit. I was asked to participate, and I gladly agreed, but then no one ever contacted me! The leaks in the roof were fixed quickly, but the museum remained closed for several years. Then the old objects were simply put back, with minimal signs or explanation, and the museum opened again.

It's nice to see the materials back in the site museum. One is a nice stone relief of the Calixtlahuaca bird. As discussed in an earlier post, this seems to have been some kind of emblem of the city or dynasty, back before it was called Calixtlahuaca (that is, prior to the Mexica conquest of the 1470s, when the name Calixtlahuaca first appears in the historical sources), and perhaps even before the city was called Matlatzinco (its name during much of the Middle and Late Postclassic periods). Emily Umberger and Maëlle Sergheraert identified a number of examples this turkey-looking bird on stone reliefs recovered at the site in the 1930's by José García Payón.

Here is an old photo of García Payón's crew working on structure 4, the Tlaloc temple. Someone could do a seriation of old Mexican excavation photos, and date the photo by the size and shape of the workers' hats.
Restoring structure 4 in the 1930s

1 comment:

CUAU said...

Estimado Dr. Smith

Somos un grupo de arqueólogos de la Dirección de Salvamento Arqueológico del INAH, en este momento y desde hace cuatro semanas nos encontramos realizando trabajos de prospección y excavación arqueológica en los sitios de El Cerro Jumil, El Jumilito y Cuexcomate, Edo. de Morelos. Nuestras actividades en estos sitios se extenderán aproximadamente 9 semanas más.
Nos encantaría que nos hiciera el honor de realizar una visita a nuestras excavaciones. Consideramos que nuestras investigaciones podrían ser de sumo interes para usted y bastante enriquecedoras para los resultados de nuestro proyecto.
En caso de que sus actividades se lo permitan y que acepte nuestra invitación, le dejamos dos correos eléctronicos que usted se pueda comunicarse con nosotros.
Sin más por el momento, le enviamos un afectuoso saludo.

Mauricio Gálvez Rosales
Israel Fuentes Martínez
Fernando Orduña Gómez (Nando)
Estela Sánchez Urrutía
Cuauhtémoc Domínguez Pérez